It's impossible to fault director Israel Luna and Breaking Glass Pictures for issuing Ticked-Off Trannies With Knives - it's probably the best title ever for an exploitation movie (OK, tied with I Dismember Mama). Things get tricky, however, when you try to figure the damn movie out. I'll offer this; Trannies is transgressively charming, alternately frustrating and enchanting, and probably like nothing you've ever seen before. Forgiving lovers of sleaze cinema will find this movie surprisingly worth the effort, as long as you can put up with the parts that aren't.
I'd say it's hard to really separate part from part, to extract the fabulous from the detumescent, except that Luna's already done that for you. By neatly splitting his film into utterly schizophrenic chunks, Luna has made it possible for you to simply skip the bits of movie you don't like to get to the good stuff. With a movie this conflicted, it's up to you to decide which parts you enjoy, but for the true Cinema Adventurer, you have to watch it all in order to achieve the full effect.
In a nutshell, (or sack) a group of friends - transgendered performers at a bar - meet after their show to aimlessly dish for approximately 15 minutes of screen-time. While this is good for establishing that gay men excel in the art of the well-timed putdown, these scenes go on for a bewilderingly long time, long enough to make viewers wonder what exactly is going on. But then, after our protagonists agree to hook up with some suspiciously rough trade, we suddenly enter Greg Araki's Doom Generation territory, as it becomes clear our heroines' dates want nothing more than to beat, humiliate, and kill them. Such deadly serious scenes (there are more than one) rise to horrific verbal heights, with a few baseball-bats-to-the-head for good measure.
And just when you think you're in for some serious rape-revenge action, (or whatever) the jokes start flying again. In truth, it's impossible not to laugh at many of these bon mots. The girls are good when the material is, and especially when you're listening to subtly named characters like Emma Grashun, (Hispanic actor Erica Andrews) Bubbles Cliquot, (Krystal Summers) Pinky La'Trimm, (Kelexis Davenport) and Rachel Slurr (William Belli). But then we veer into emotionally charged hate-crime territory again, and then back into sex jokes. By the time the government mandated triumphant battle royale closes the movie, you can't help but care what happens, can't help but laugh at the ultra-low-budget ultraviolence, and can't help but bemusedly scratch your head.
I mean, what the hell did I just watch? Was it a horror movie? A Rape-Revenge flick? A Comedy? Or a LGBTG PSA? Despite decisions from production to fully infuse the film with a grindhouse aesthetic, including fake film damage, grain, reel-change markers and jacked-up splices, the film is far too genre bending and modern to really be classified. It remains to be seen if a film that defies categorization can be cohesive, too, because this one isn't it. Despite that and other problems that plague low-budget pictures - at times amateur acting, often-indecipherable sound - Ticked-Off Trannies With Knives remains resolutely its own beast, for out-there aficionados a true cinematic joy-ride of bizarre proportions and intent.